Monday, May 18, 2015

4-H Member Zoe Barbeau earns the Congressional Award Gold Medal

St. Lucie County, Florida
Contributing Author:  Linda Jones

Jubilee Clark, Nathaniel Quirion and Zoe Barbeau in the Statistics scene from the 2014 annual RCFJAS 4H Science Fair Boot Camp skit at the Savannas Preserve State Park Education Center. Photo Credit: Erin Barbeau

Zoe Barbeau has earned Congress’ highest award for youth – the Congressional Award Gold Medal. Congressman Patrick E. Murphy presented Zoe and 21 other young people of the Florida 18th Congressional District with their gold medals, the most medals earned for any Congressional District in the nation in 2015.

The Congressional Award is a voluntary, non-competitive program, open to young Americans, of any gender, race, academic or athletic ability, or socioeconomic background. The Congressional Award has no minimum grade point average requirements. It accommodates young people with special needs or disabilities who are willing to take the challenge.

The program involves setting goals in four program areas; Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

As a physical fitness goal, Zoe earned the both the Bronze and Silver Presidential Champions Awards. Her ultimate goal was improved conditioning and strength, which enabled Zoe to earn her D rating as a competitive foil fencer. Georgina Love of the Treasure Coast Fencing Academy and also Zoe's Congressional Award advisor commented, "Zoe was able to apply her strategic focus not only on her academics and other requirements of the Congressional Award but to her physical fitness as well. She realized that with fencing being a perfect meld of body and mind, if she achieved a high level of fitness it would enable her to set in motion the mental part of the game. I have seen a strong and increasing growth in her ability to combine different skill sets and apply them to whatever comes her way."

This 17 year old young lady pursued creative writing as one of her personal goals. Zoe completed the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Young Writer’s Program twice and Camp NaNoWriMo once. Her next goal is to write and illustrate a web comic.

Zoe has volunteered over 500 hours at the Hoke Library in Jensen Beach and the Savannas Preserve State Park. Her overall goal was to promote both STEM and 4-H to her community. As a member of the Research Coast Florida Junior Academy of Science (RCFJAS) 4-H Club, Zoe was a key participant in the RCFJAS annual science fair boot camp hosted by the Savannas Preserve State Park and Indian River Lagoon Science Fest. As a Savannas volunteer, she has set up a coloring sheet station at the Education Center, cared for the butterfly garden, and is the corn husk doll making expert. But her passion is instilling a sense of wonder about nature in grade school student with educational outreach, whether it is dip netting with 4th graders or introducing Leroy the box turtle to kindergarteners.
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